Tigrosa helluo

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Tigrosa helluo
Wolf Spider - Tigrosa helluo, Meadowood Farm SRMA, Mason Neck, Virginia.jpg
Tigrosa helluo from Mason Neck, Virginia
Hogna helluo male.jpg
Tigrosa helluo male from North Carolina
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Lycosidae
Genus: Tigrosa
T. helluo
Binomial name
Tigrosa helluo
(Walckenaer, 1837) [1]
Synonyms [1]
  • Lycosa helluoWalckenaer, 1837
  • Lycosa sayiWalckenaer, 1837
  • Lycosa babingtoniBlackwall, 1846
  • Tarentula vafraC. L. Koch, 1847
  • Leimonia helluo(Walckenaer, 1837)
  • Leimonia sayi(Walckenaer, 1837)
  • Trochosa helvipesKeyserling, 1877
  • Lycosa nidicolaEmerton, 1885
  • Lycosa crudelisBanks, 1892
  • Hogna helluo(Walckenaer, 1837)

Tigrosa helluo is a species of spider belonging to the family Lycosidae, also known as wolf spiders. T. helluo was formerly known as Hogna helluo before differences between dorsal color patterns, habitat preferences, body structures, etc. were discovered. [2] The species is native to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It can be found across the eastern half of the United States, primarily in the Northeast and New England, and as far west as Nebraska and Kansas. T. helluo can be found in diverse habitats including woods, marshes, fields, and riparian areas. Typically, members of this species prefer to live in wetter areas as opposed to dry environments. Males tend to live for around a year and females will live for close to two years.


The defining characteristic of T. helluo is its brown carapace and distinct yellow stripe starting from its anterior eyes extending down the cephalothorax. The underside of the abdomen has distinct black spots that distinguish T. helluo from other wolf spiders. At an average size of around 17 mm (0.67 in), T. helluo is one of the smaller wolf spiders. In addition, females tend to be larger than males in a display of sexual dimorphism.

Like other spiders of the family Lycosidae, wolf spiders are solitary and live and hunt alone. Unless in the process of mating, T. helluo will remain alone. It is usually active at night, during which it hunts for prey. In addition, T. helluo does not create webs, although females will make burrows under rocks or boards. Relying on their excellent eyesight and senses, T. helluo members are great hunters.

Members of T. helluo are not very aggressive and will not attack humans unless provoked. Their bites inject venom; however, it is not medically significant to humans, as only minor pain and swelling occur. Antivenom is rarely needed.


Whereas average body length for Tigrosa can range from 10 to 31 mm (0.39 to 1.22 in) for females and 11 to 24 mm (0.43 to 0.94 in) for males, T. helluo body length averages 17 mm (0.67 in). Compared to its close relative T. aspersa , T. helluo is much smaller. T. helluo is also often mistaken for Pisaurina mira , the nursery web spider, due to the physical resemblance. [3] However, the carapace of T. helluo consists of a brownish color contrasting with a distinctive yellow stripe that extends from the anterior eyes to the cephalothorax. Starting from the posterior median eyes, a set of fainter yellow stripes extends posteriorly. In addition, the underside of the abdomen is marked with several black spots. Patterns found on the dorsal side of the cephalothorax and abdomen are similar to those found on T. georgicola; however, the faint yellow stripes appearing on T. helluo do not extend as far. Black spots found on the abdomen of T. helluo are also not found on T. georgicola. Coloration in the legs differs between sexes, with males' legs appearing yellow without distinct markings and females' legs appearing reddish brown without additional markings or bands. [2]


The Tigrosa genus includes four species— T. annexa , T. aspersa , T. grandis , and T. helluo—that were moved from the genus Hogna . Tigrosa is defined by the distinct colored pattern on the dorsal cephalothorax, structure of the male palpus and epigynum, leg length, foraging behaviors, and eye arrangement. The aggressive nature and colorful patterns of these spiders related to the meaning of the word Tigrosa, which is "fierce like a tiger". [4]

Habitat and distribution


In the United States, T. helluo can be found in a large variety of states in woods, marshes, and even grassy areas in northeastern states such as Connecticut. Females' nests are often found under stones or boards in fields and woods. [5] These nests consist of burrows lined with silk. [6] However, in states like Florida and Mississippi, T. helluo is most often found in wetter areas such as marshes and lakes. [2]


T. helluo can be found throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It primarily resides along the East Coast in the New England region but can be found along the entire East Coast down to Florida. T. helluo resides in most states in the eastern half of the United States. It can be found as far west as Kansas and Nebraska. [2]

Reproduction and life cycle

Mating for T. helluo usually occurs in May or June. Males will live for just over one year while females will often live for around two years. [7] Maturation occurs in males between May and September. Egg sacs are made in May and July and can range from 8 to 12 mm (0.31 to 0.47 in) in diameter. The eggs by themselves can appear tan or yellow and are around 1 to 2 mm (0.04 to 0.08 in) in diameter. Females will carry these eggs in an egg sac on their back until they hatch. Even after hatching, the female will continue to carry the hatchlings on her back until they mature enough to hunt by themselves. [8] Female maturation can occur at any point during the year. Once mature, females will begin to overwinter during colder months. [2] Males will typically die before it gets too cold.

As T. helluo matures, it will molt periodically. Time and duration of molting is dependent on nutritional intake and consequent growth potential. The frequency of molting is based on the nutritional reserves of an individual T. helluo. Individuals that feed more often will molt less frequently during maturation. [7]


Female–male dimorphism

T. helluo is sexually dimorphic. In this species, the two sexes dramatically differ in size, with mature females being larger than males. Typically, females will grow to weigh more than 300 mg (0.01 oz) with carapace widths of around 6.5 mm (0.26 in), while males will usually only weigh in excess of 200 mg (0.007 oz) and have carapace widths of around 4.5 mm (0.18 in). [9]

Sexual cannibalism

Like many other wolf spiders, T. helluo will engage in precopulatory and postcopulatory sexual cannibalism. The frequency at which females participate in sexual cannibalism depends on a variety of factors. The degree of sexual dimorphism between two spiders has been shown to have an effect on the occurrence of sexual cannibalism. Males who are smaller are more vulnerable to larger females and therefore are more likely to be cannibalized. The larger the size difference between the male and female, the more likely for sexual cannibalism to occur. Thus, sexual cannibalism in T. helluo can be viewed similarly to a predator–prey interaction where size difference affects the actions of each. Another factor that impacts the degree of sexual cannibalism for T. helluo is the female condition. Females who have been starved and therefore are hungry are more likely to cannibalize than females who are well fed. It is possible that males can maximize their fitness by mating only with well-fed females. The male condition can also affect the possibility of sexual cannibalism. Older males or males in poorer condition, while they might not be very small, are more vulnerable to females. Therefore, they are more likely to alter their copulatory behavior depending on their perceived risk of being cannibalized. These males can invest more into a single copulation by engaging for longer because they are at a high risk of being eaten after mating. [10]


The process of copulation for T. helluo consists of a series of interactions between the male palp and the female epigynum. First, the male will mount the female such that they are facing opposite from each other. The underside of the male's cephalothorax is positioned against the dorsal section of the female's abdomen. The male then will signal the female to rotate the abdomen by touching the anterior of the female abdomen. After this, the male will use his palp to engage with the female's abdomen and epigynum. The right and left palps will interact with the right and left sides of the epigynum. After the palp and epigynum are engaged, the male will expand his hematodocha, causing his embolus to enter the female copulatory duct. Semen is then exchanged. This interaction is called an insertion. During a single insertion, the male may also expand his hematodocha multiple times. However, it is often only a single expansion per insertion. T. helluo will also engage in more than one insertion per copulation. Usually, one insertion will happen per side of the male palp. Copulation for T. helluo will typically last around eight minutes. [11]



Wolf spiders typically eat different kinds of insects or even other smaller spiders like Pardosa milvina . [12] They are nocturnal so they wait for prey and hunt at night. [13] T. helluo can survive on insects such as crickets, fly grubs, cockroaches, mealworms, and even beetles. [14]

Effects of diet on survivorship

T. helluo is able to feed on a large variety of prey and thus enjoys a mixed diet of different insects. A 1992 study assessing the effects of polytypic versus monotypic diets on wolf spiders found that T. helluo individuals raised on polytypic diets had significantly higher survivorship and reached sexual maturity earlier than individuals consuming a monotypic diet. Certain body parts like the cephalothorax and legs were also significantly larger at maturity in the polytypic diet group. [14]

Effects of diet on behavior

A 1999 study examining the effect of feeding on burrow construction for T. helluo reported that hunger level significantly impacts its behavioral decisions. In comparison to starved spiders, well-fed individuals had a better nutritional state and made significantly more burrows. Since males do not make burrows, they were not included in the study. [15]


Tigrosa helluo female Arachtober 19 -1 - Wolf Spider - Tigrosa helluo (37755163772).jpg
Tigrosa helluo female

Although they are hunters, wolf spiders are also preyed upon by other organisms such as praying mantises, birds, wasps, small reptiles, and even other spiders. Lycosidae have fantastic vision and are sensitive to vibrations, so they use these senses to detect and evade predators. They also use their speed and camouflage from their natural coloring to avoid predators. Females of the species T. helluo make burrows in secluded habitats, such as underneath stones, that can also function as a place to hide from predators. If needed, T. helluo can also bite predators and inject venom. [14]



T. helluo typically switches between a few different foraging sites. Females build burrows of silk and wait for prey to show up in their current foraging site. Males typically roam around and wait for prey. Like all wolf spiders, T. helluo is a solitary hunter and will hunt alone, meeting with other spiders only to mate. [14]

Chemical cues in hunting

A 2001 study examining chemical cues in T. helluo suggests that T. helluo is able to detect chemical cues from recently hunted prey. The spiders will show a preference for chemical cues that match that of their most recently hunted prey. Thus, further hunting activities will show a dietary preference for the prey species most recently consumed. [16]

It has also been shown that the presence of glyphosate-based herbicide affects prey capture behavior of T. helluo. In the presence of herbicide, T. helluo is better able to detect and orient itself towards prey and therefore is able to subdue prey more efficiently. [17]


While wolf spiders are solitary and do not usually associate with others outside mating, communication between individual spiders does occur occasionally. Wolf spiders have some of the best vision of all spiders, so they use visual cues, such as waving their pedipalps, to signal to each other for mating. They are also sensitive to vibrations, scent, and taste. [13]


Bites to humans

Wolf spiders are usually not aggressive and will not bite unless readily provoked. They also possess venom that is injected into organisms upon biting. However, to humans, wolf spider bites are generally considered minor and not medically significant. Bites typically cause minor swelling and pain, but no severe complications. Antivenom is not usually needed to treat wolf spider bites. [18]

Differences from Pardosa milvina

Both Pardosa milvina and Tigrosa helluo are among the more common wolf spider species in the United States, but they do have behavioral differences in their hunting approaches. Whereas T. helluo tends to wait for prey to pass by its location prior to attacking, P. milvina goes out to find its prey. However, the much smaller size of P. milvina also makes it prey for T. helluo. [12]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wolf spider</span> Family of spiders

Wolf spiders are members of the family Lycosidae. They are robust and agile hunters with excellent eyesight. They live mostly in solitude, hunt alone, and usually do not spin webs. Some are opportunistic hunters, pouncing upon prey as they find it or chasing it over short distances; others wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of a burrow.

<i>Tigrosa aspersa</i> Species of spider

Tigrosa aspersa is a large wolf spider that inhabits the eastern United States. Compared to its close relative Tigrosa helluo, T. aspersa is much larger. This species was known as Hogna aspersa prior to 2012, when it was moved to Tigrosa.

<i>Lycosa tarantula</i> Species of arachnid

Lycosa tarantula is the species originally known as the tarantula, a name that nowadays in English commonly refers to spiders in another family entirely, the Theraphosidae. It now may be better called the tarantula wolf spider, being in the wolf spider family, the Lycosidae. L. tarantula is a large species found in southern Europe, especially in the Apulia region of Italy and near the city of Taranto, from which it gets its name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Raft spider</span> Species of spider

The raft spider, scientific name Dolomedes fimbriatus, is a large semi-aquatic spider of the family Pisauridae found throughout north-western and central Europe. It is one of only two species of the genus Dolomedes found in Europe, the other being the slightly larger Dolomedesplantarius which is endangered in the UK.

<i>Misumena vatia</i> Species of spider

Misumena vatia is a species of crab spider with a holarctic distribution. In North America, it is called the goldenrod crab spider or flower (crab) spider, as it is commonly found hunting in goldenrod sprays and milkweed plants. They are called crab spiders because of their unique ability to walk sideways as well as forwards and backwards. Both males and females of this species progress through several molts before reaching their adult sizes, though females must molt more to reach their larger size. Females can grow up to 10 mm (0.39 in) while males are quite small, reaching 5 mm (0.20 in) at most. Misumena vatia are usually yellow or white or a pattern of these two colors. They may also present with pale green or pink instead of yellow, again, in a pattern with white. They have the ability to change between these colors based on their surroundings through the molting process. They have a complex visual system, with eight eyes, that they rely on for prey capture and for their color-changing abilities. Sometimes, if Misumena vatia consumes colored prey, the spider itself will take on that color.

<i>Argiope argentata</i> Species of spider

Argiope argentata, commonly known as the silver argiope or silver garden spider due to the silvery color of its cephalothorax, is a member of the orb-weaver spider family Araneidae. This species resides in arid and warm environments in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and widely across South America. In the United States, it is found at least in Southern California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. A. argentata create stabilimenta and a unique zig-zag in its web design, and it utilizes its UV-reflecting silk to attract pollinating species to prey upon. Like other species of Argiope, its venom is not harmful to humans; however, it can be employed to immobilize its prey. A. argentata engages in sexual cannibalism either mid- or post-copulation. One aspect of particular interest regarding this species is its extinction patterns, which notably have minimal correlation with its population size but rather occur sporadically for the species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sexual cannibalism</span> Practice of animals eating their own mating partners

Sexual cannibalism is when an animal, usually the female, cannibalizes its mate prior to, during, or after copulation. It is a trait observed in many arachnid orders and several insect orders. Several hypotheses to explain this seemingly paradoxical behavior have been proposed. The adaptive foraging hypothesis, aggressive spillover hypothesis and mistaken identity hypothesis are among the proposed hypotheses to explain how sexual cannibalism evolved. This behavior is believed to have evolved as a manifestation of sexual conflict, occurring when the reproductive interests of males and females differ. In many species that exhibit sexual cannibalism, the female consumes the male upon detection. Females of cannibalistic species are generally hostile and unwilling to mate; thus many males of these species have developed adaptive behaviors to counteract female aggression.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Six-spotted fishing spider</span> Species of spider

The six-spotted fishing spider is an arachnid from the nursery web spider family Pisauridae. This species is from the genus Dolomedes, or the fishing spiders. Found in wetland habitats throughout North America, these spiders are usually seen scampering along the surface of ponds and other bodies of water. They are also referred to as dock spiders because they can sometimes be witnessed quickly vanishing through the cracks of boat docks. D. triton gets its scientific name from the Greek mythological god Triton, who is the messenger of the big sea and the son of Poseidon.

<i>Hogna carolinensis</i> Species of spider

Hogna carolinensis, commonly known as the Carolina wolf spider and giant wolf spider, is found across North America. It is the largest of the wolf spiders in North America, typically measuring at 18–20 mm for males and 22–35 mm for females.

<i>Pisaurina mira</i> Species of spider

Pisaurina mira, also known as the American nursery web spider, is a species of spider in the family Pisauridae. They are often mistaken for wolf spiders (Lycosidae) due to their physical resemblance. P. mira is distinguished by its unique eye arrangement of two rows. 

Tidarren argo is a spider from Yemen. The species is remarkable by its male amputating one of its palps before maturation and entering his adult life with one palp only. It adopts exceptional copulatory behaviour: when the male achieves genitalia coupling with his palp, the latter is torn off by the female. The separated gonopod remains attached to the female's epigynum for approximately 4 hours and continues to function independently, serving as a mating plug. While this happens, the female feeds on the male. Emasculation thus synchronizes sexual cannibalism and sperm transfer, lengthening the interval between copulations. This mating behaviour might allow for the continuation of insemination by the dismembered palp.

<i>Tigrosa</i> Genus of spiders

Tigrosa is a genus of spiders in the family Lycosidae, found in North America.

<i>Tetragnatha versicolor</i> Species of spider

Tetragnatha versicolor is a species of long-jawed orb weaver in the spider family Tetragnathidae. It is found throughout North America, Canada, Central America, and Cuba, but are most common in the United States. T. versicolor is heavily concentrated in New England and the west coast in states like California and Washington. T. versicolor is considered a habitat generalist, and can thrive in many different environments. While they can be found in places like Grasslands, Wetlands, Forests, etc., they prefer dryer areas like normal trees and shrubs. Unlike other spiders in the genus Tetragnatha, T. versicolor will rarely reside near aquatic environments. T. versicolor will typically be colored dark yellow or pale orange and average around 5 mm for males and 6.5 mm for females in length, which is very small for a spider. They are much longer than they are wide, making them very distinct. In addition, T. versicolor can be distinguished from other spiders in Tetragnatha by the distinct separation of the anterior/posterior eyes and the appearance of their reproductive organs. As an orb weaver spider, T. versicolor creates a web to hunt for prey. It will wait at night for prey to stumble into its web and use vibrational signals throughout the web to sense trapped prey. In terms of mating behavior, T. versicolor lacks a distinct courting ritual and will mate with any others in the proximity. Mating behavior is heavily affected by female mating history. In terms of interactions with humans, the bite of T. versicolor is venomous, but not known to cause significant harm.

<i>Pardosa milvina</i> Species of arachnid

Pardosa milvina, the shore spider, is a species in the wolf spider family. They are mainly found near rivers and in agricultural areas in eastern North America. P. milvina feed on a large variety of small insects and spiders. Ground beetles such as Scarites quadriceps and large wolf spiders such as Tigrosa helluo are predators of P. milvina. P. milvina are smaller spiders with thin, long legs. This species captures prey such as arthropods with their legs and then kills them with their venom. Their predators are larger wolf spiders and beetles. P. milvina are able to detect these predators from chemotactile and vibratory cues. These spiders lose limbs when escaping from predators and they can change their preferred location in order to avoid predators. P. milvina also use chemical cues in order to mate. During their mating ritual, the male raises his legs and shakes his body. Both males and females can use silk, a chemotactile cue, for sexual communication. Additionally, female shore spiders heavily invest in their offspring, keeping them in egg sacs and carrying them for a few weeks after they are born.

<i>Schizocosa ocreata</i> Species of spider

Schizocosa ocreata is a species of wolf spider in the family Lycosidae that is found in North America. The Schizocosa ocreata is a spider that is most commonly known as the “brush-legged wolf spider” because of their distinct dark-colored fur-like coverings around their legs. The S. ocreata are commonly found in North American states, usually in the middle and eastern United States.

<i>Leucauge mariana</i> Species of spider

Leucauge mariana is a long-jawed orb weaver spider, native to Central America and South America. Its web building and sexual behavior have been studied extensively. Males perform several kinds of courtship behavior to induce females to copulate and to use their sperm.

<i>Pardosa agrestis</i> Species of spider

Pardosa agrestis is a non-web-building spider in the family Lycosidae, commonly known as wolf spiders.

Schizocosa stridulans is a sibling species of S. ocreata and S. rovneri and is part of the wolf spider family. The name of the genus comes from the epigynum structure being lycosid and having a split T excavation. This spider is well-known for its specific leg ornamentation and courtship rituals and that is how it has been differentiated from its related species. The S. stridulans take systematic steps during its courtship ritual, which involves two independent signals. More specifically, female spiders will leave silk and pheromones to communicate that they are ready to mate.

<i>Pardosa pseudoannulata</i> Species of arachnid

Pardosa pseudoannulata, a member of a group of species referred to as wolf-spiders, is a non-web-building spider belonging to the family Lycosidae. P. pseudoannulata are wandering spiders that track and ambush prey and display sexual cannibalism. They are commonly encountered in farmlands across China and other East Asian countries. Their venom has properties that helps it function as an effective insecticide, and it is, therefore, a crucial pesticide control agent.

<i>Larinia jeskovi</i> Species of arachnid

Larinia jeskovi is a species of the family of orb weaver spiders and a part of the genus Larinia. It is distributed throughout the Americas, Africa, Australia, Europe, and Asia and commonly found in wet climes such as marshes, bogs, and rainforests. Larinia jeskovi have yellow bodies with stripes and range from 5.13 to 8.70 millimeters in body length. They build their webs on plants with a small height above small bodies of waters or wetlands. After sunset and before sunrise are the typical times they hunt and build their web. Males usually occupy a female's web instead of making their own. The mating behavior is noteworthy as male spiders often mutilate external female genitalia to reduce sperm competition while female spiders resort to sexual cannibalism to counter such mechanisms. The males also follow an elaborate courtship ritual to attract the female. The bite of Larinia jeskovi is not known to be of harm to humans.


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